Real Estate Upickem Golf

Free docking spots cause issues for Whitehall marinas

2010-08-26T11:48:00Z 2010-08-26T17:37:32Z Free docking spots cause issues for Whitehall marinasLYDIA WHEELER - lwheeler@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
August 26, 2010 11:48 am  • 

As a marina owner in town, Bob Elmy said, he is paying for his business to go elsewhere.

Elmy owns the Champlain Harbor Marina on the west shore of the Champlain Canal and he has been fighting with the town over a free wall for years.

The free wall, a docking spot where boaters can hook up to free electricity and water for 48 hours at time, is taking business away from both Elmy and Ray Faville, the owner of Lock 12 Marina and Finch & Chubb Inn, located on the east side of the canal. Although the free wall is owned and regulated by the New York State Canal Corp., the town of Whitehall pays for the electricity it provides.

On July 31, Elmy said, he saw 21 boats at the free wall, some tethered to each other.

For a boat to stay overnight at his marina, Elmy said, he charges $1.75 per foot.

Since the average boat size is about 30 feet, he said, he is missing out on $52.50 per boat each night a boater chooses the free wall over his marina.

Multiplying $52.50 by 21 boats over a 30-day period and, Elmy said, he loses about $33,000.

"My taxes up here alone are at $18,000 a year."

Those taxes, he said, help pay for the free wall, which is undermining his business.

With a tough economy and a short boating season of about six weeks, Faville said, having a free wall where 21 boats can tie up together takes a lot of revenue away from him.

Elmy and Faville have fought the town every summer since it started in 2001 supplying the free wall with electricity and water, but both said their complaints have been ignored.

"We get the run-around every year. Every year they say next summer we'll do something. Well, next summer, I don't know if Bob and I are going to be here. Actually, I've been here 25 years and this is the worst year I've ever had. People are making cutbacks, especially on the American side. We saw a lot of Canadian traffic, but they tie up on the free wall and it doesn't pay for us to advertise because we're competing against something that's free, and I can't compete," Faville said.

The Whitehall Visitors Center on Skenesborough Drive, next to the free wall, is equipped with bathrooms and showers that are also available for the boaters to use for free.

The visitors center currently houses the town hall, but it is owned by the Canal Corp. and, Elmy said, he thinks that could be the reason the Town Board refuses to address his grievances.

According to Richard Harris, deputy director of the Canal Corp., the state built the free wall in 1912 and it didn't have electricity until the visitors center was built in 2000.

He said the Canal Corp. paid for the wall's electric and water usage until the town took it over in 2001.

In May of 2006, Harris said, the town started using the visitors center as a town hall, but both the town and the Canal Corp. intended for the town to move out by 2010.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(29) Comments

  1. dresdengal
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    dresdengal - September 02, 2010 10:21 am
    I'm with Old School FF - good point. There are very few things in life that are at no cost today. Whitehall has great potential to be a wonderful spot to stop, do a little shopping, have dinner, enjoy life! Have a beer at a few of the establishments on the street and dinner at that new restaurant, sit in the park, listen to music....the local government there should be working on promoting downtown area, it's a jewel in the rough.
  2. upthehill
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    upthehill - August 30, 2010 10:55 am
    Rich boater here! Rich in personality, should you look at my checkbook sometime...glad to hear about the free dockage - thanks Post Star! Never knew it existed, but we plan to take our little boat for a cruise up the canal w/our son & this sounds like a good destination! We drive 11 year old vehicles, have an 18 year old boat & don't travel - so a little cheap fun is great for us! If we need gas, we will be at the marina. But to stop & stretch our legs, we won't pay $50! Yeah, we're rich alright.
  3. Brian Brooks
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    Brian Brooks - August 29, 2010 4:14 pm
    "What makes you assume I do not 'pay taxes here' ?"

    I don't know; but it's easy to shoot from the bushes without your face being seen. You have the advantage of knowing who I am, but I will never know who you are. Your hidden identity keeps you from being held accountable for things you post anonymously on this page. Just remember, everyone has a right to comment. You have a right to disagree.

    This comment section is not a good venue for debate.
  4. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 28, 2010 11:48 am
    Brian - "I am not taking this debate any further"

    I didn't think you would...rather difficult to refute cold hard logic, is it not ? Much less difficult to bury one's head in the sand and cry out "Oh Poor Me" !

    "But I am not going to take a simple case and apply to "

    The underlying principles of your position is precisely the same in both scenarios...you know it, and I know it.


    "When you start paying taxes here, then you get to comment on how they are spent."

    What makes you assume I do not 'pay taxes here' ? As a landowner in both Washington County AND Warren County, I most certainly DO.

    Once again, your faulty reasoning process is encouraging you to speak from your (bleep) !
  5. Brian Brooks
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    Brian Brooks - August 28, 2010 6:35 am
    nthrnNYker1 - "Ok, extending your so-called "rational", the United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard should be dis-banded because, as publicly-funded entities...they directly compete with private, 'tax-paying' security firms such as Haliburton and Blackwater that provide much the same 'services' ?"

    I am not taking this debate any further. I have spoken my opinion. You have a right to disagree. If you do not like my opinion move on. But I am not going to take a simple case and apply to whether we should employ a standing army for defense as opposed to hiring mercenaries. This conversation is off the tracks.

    When you start paying taxes here, then you get to comment on how they are spent.
  6. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 28, 2010 3:41 am
    Outsider-" Make sure you support the marina owners property tax appeal. The current valuation isn't predicated on the current competetive environment"

    Surely you jest.

    Inform us of alllll the successful 'property tax appeals' that are predicated on a competing business as a basis for a tax reduction.....or to put it in layman's terms...I own a restaurant...a new one opens up down the block....you're saying that it would give me grounds for a property tax reduction ?

    Are you insane, or what ? They would laugh me out of the room !

    "insist that the city get marina insurance and certified staff"

    Staff ? Whatever for ? What, to help the boaters 'plug in' ? To guide their hands ?

    Insurance ? The town, I'm sure....has an adequate general policy that covers all manners of misfortunes, from vehicular accidents to slip and falls.

    You are more than insane...you sound very much like an embittered marina owner.

    AHA !
  7. Outsider1
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    Outsider1 - August 27, 2010 10:10 pm
    For those of you who think its OK for the city to provide a fully subsidized service from property it doesn't own nor is entitled to I would ask you to do this:

    1- insist that the city get marina insurance and certified staff; those pedestals are a major source of insurance claims for marinas. I'm reasonably certain the city's current policy is woefully inadequate- after all the city can't even afford it's own town hall. I hope all those civil servants have a fall back plan for retirement when the pension system is raided to pay off a plaintiff's exorbinant and un-or-under covered claim. As an ABYC certified electrican, photo 2 alarms me.

    2- Make sure you support the marina owners property tax appeal. The current valuation isn't predicated on the current competetive environment. Marina's are valuated on a cap rate basis and the freewall strikes directly at that.

    3- Show me verifiable proof that the freewall provides a greater net economic gain than patronage of the marinas.
  8. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 27, 2010 9:53 pm
    Brian : "We as a government, state or local, should not be in competition with private industry. As in providing services that taxpaying businesses already provide"

    Ok, extending your so-called "rational", the United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard should be dis-banded because, as publicly-funded entities...they directly compete with private, 'tax-paying' security firms such as Haliburton and Blackwater that provide much the same 'services' ?

    How about the State University system ?

    Should we shutter Adirondack Community College, SUNY, CUNY, and every other publicly-funded institute of higher education simply because they 'compete' with private universities such as RPI and the College of St. Rose ?

    Quit claiming I'm 'wrong', and answer the questions posed, not just the ones you chose to answer.

    Only idiots do that.
  9. Brian Brooks
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    Brian Brooks - August 27, 2010 7:05 pm
    nthrnNYker1 - We as a government, state or local, should not be in competition with private industry. As in providing services that taxpaying businesses already provide. Our DPW shop will not go into the business of repairing cars or selling auto parts. Boaters get to tie up free along the canal walls, but that should not entitle them to free water and power. State parks vs. private campgrounds. I do not think we should be in that business ether. I also do not believe we should run state government through gambling. I never expressed an "everybody who has a different opinion is an idiot attitude." In fact, I defend your right to be wrong.
  10. sreed
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    sreed - August 27, 2010 6:43 pm
    The Champlain is for everyone to use and not just for a certain few.It seems to me that there is just one person complaining about this and not anyone else.Are you that money hungry that there not using your marina for their boats when they can be some where else for free.Lower your prices and you might get more business either that or vacate Whitehall.
  11. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 27, 2010 11:41 am
    rdc- "Interesting that you see no difference between historical sites and commercial sites."

    Oh please....DEC and other state-owned campgrounds in this state and other states are nowhere NEAR limited to 'historical sites'......second, the Champlain canal ITSELF can be considered a 'historical site', as part of the Erie canal network !

    "Also interesting to see the 'everybody who has a different opinion is an idiot' attitude."

    Well, if you could present arguements that are logical and make SOME kind of sense, I wouldn't consider you an idiot.

    "I thought this was for adult-level discussions of the issues, not Fox News whining."

    I believe YOU are the one supportive of the greed of businesses in this situation, are you not ?
  12. rdc
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    rdc - August 27, 2010 10:51 am
    Interesting that you see no difference between historical sites and commercial sites. Also interesting to see the 'everybody who has a different opinion is an idiot' attitude. For some reason, I thought this was for adult-level discussions of the issues, not Fox News whining.
  13. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 27, 2010 12:01 am
    rdc-" I am glad Whitehall is in a solid enough fiscal situation that it can help wealthy tourists."

    &

    Brian= "government has no business collecting a real estate tax off these parcels and then compete for customers. Add in the fact that the local taxpayers are subsidizing an expensive hobby for a select few!"

    The same could be said about state-owned RV parks.... taxpayer subsidized for those that can afford an expensive hobby for a select few ! Yano, the 'select few' that can afford to invest in a $20k to $150 RV 'hobby"

    Save it, buddy....nobody's buying !
  14. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 26, 2010 11:34 pm
    "Local government should not be in competition with private industry. Especially when the public is footing the bill"

    No ? So you DO advocate shuttering the Battleground State park and other state parks owned by the DEC (and in turn, funded by the taxpayer) ?

    How about the shuttering of the entire school systems all across the nation simply because they 'compete' against for-profit charter schools ? Or state universities vs private shools of higher education ?

    Goeing even further, should we disband our armed forces, simply because they 'compete' with security firms such as Haliburton(Xe) and Blackwater ?

    Where does this end...or rather, where do YOU want it to end ?

  15. Old School FF
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    Old School FF - August 26, 2010 6:35 pm
    So if I build a parking garage in Whitehall and charge people to park there, the Village should eliminate all free parking spaces and only allow people to park in my garage?

    This is the same argument that the private campgrounds made when Walmart in Queensbury wanted to allow overnight parking of self contained campers (which every other Walmart in America offers) and they convinced the Town Board to prohibit the overnight parking.

    Perhaps this marina owner doesn't realize that all the businesses in Whitehall benefit from allowing free docking and providing a few minimal services to entice these boaters to shop and dine in Whitehall.
  16. rdc
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    rdc - August 26, 2010 4:59 pm
    nthrnNYker1 - I am glad Whitehall is in a solid enough fiscal situation that it can help wealthy tourists. The taxpayers of this town should be commended for their thoughtfulness
  17. Brian Brooks
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    Brian Brooks - August 26, 2010 4:50 pm
    Local government should not be in competition with private industry. Especially when the public is footing the bill. I was on the village board when the state proposed this project and we stressed that we should not be in competition with the 3 local marinas at the time. The state's plan was to provide water and power to boaters at no cost, and then to turn over the site, including all buildings and infrastructure, to the community when they finished the project. The original project included 1,100 feet of wooden docks, which we managed to talk them out of, due to the high maintenance cost the community would inherit over the service life of the docks. Marina owners have a hot 3 - 4 months to make their properties pay off. Whiners or not, local government has no business collecting a real estate tax off these parcels and then compete for customers. Add in the fact that the local taxpayers are subsidizing an expensive hobby for a select few!
  18. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 26, 2010 4:27 pm
    According to these greedy whiners, thier same logic could and should apply to state-owned campgrounds and RV parks.....

    According to their twisted 'logic', all state-owned recreation facilities should immediately shut down and be sold off simply because the taxpayer funded state-owned facilities 'compete' with privately held campgrounds and rv parks.

    Shame on you, you greedy (bleep)ers !
  19. nthrnNYker1
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    nthrnNYker1 - August 26, 2010 4:18 pm
    These guys whining that their taxes are being used to provide a service to the general taxpayers of the county.....

    BOO HOO !

    Hey, sometimes I don't particularly like where my property tax dollars are spent (ie...LOCAL taxpayer funding of firework displays that usually primarily benefit the tourist...and the businesses that leach.....er...profit from them) or the school tax burden I must shoulder, even tho I have no and never had children !

    Suck it up, dudes....life ain't supposed to be 'fair'
  20. intheburg
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    intheburg - August 26, 2010 4:09 pm
    koolaiddrinker you are right - but for most those who have never been in business for themselves they think that the whatever they paid for something is what a business makes. ny small business [I'm talking mom n pops] are taxed to death - how do you compete with the government when they use your money to put you down?
  21. intheburg
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    intheburg - August 26, 2010 3:49 pm
    guess the post star only prints the comments they like - wake up people - nothings free not even your virus protection - your still paying for it, you just haven't figured out how
  22. DWC121
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    DWC121 - August 26, 2010 3:44 pm
    Randyinakd - I was thinking just what you posted. To be in business, and especially when you have competition, you have to offer better and/or more services and/or unique services to entice customers to "your side".
  23. TRUTHFULL
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    TRUTHFULL - August 26, 2010 3:38 pm
    I fully agree with Randy .
    Wow the people final get something free from the government and this guy gets upset.Make the water front so every one can enjoy it . Anyone with a Marina seems like they own the water its on .........well you might pay alot in taxes ,but you dont own the water,thats there for all to enjoy

  24. rdc
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    rdc - August 26, 2010 3:33 pm
    yes, and the tax payers of Whitehall should thank their government for providing free services to wealthy tourists who are too cheap to pay their own way.
  25. intheburg
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    intheburg - August 26, 2010 3:06 pm
    how can you be lower than free
  26. intheburg
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    intheburg - August 26, 2010 3:02 pm
    are you kidding me randyinadk? wow, you need to walk in someone elses shoes there buddy. nothing in this or any state is free - we pay for it. everyone tax payer in whitehall is paying for those boats to be supplied with dockage, power and restrooms - who do you think is going to pay when someone gets hurt there? its one thing to let boaters tie up overnight, now its the canal authority operating a business, all they need now is a convience store or snack bar - to heck with those who are trying to eek out a living.
  27. koolaiddrinker
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    koolaiddrinker - August 26, 2010 3:01 pm
    Anti-free market? Ummm..the town providing the service is anti free market. Taking the tax dollars from the rich and giving to the oh yeah..rich boaters.. oops, there goes that argument. Seriously though, this is an expenditure by the town that is not necessary and it is also making the "free market" compete with the government, something I am sure you are against in every other instance...say health care..public assistance social programs where the government provides for the citizens.
  28. Rich-P
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    Rich-P - August 26, 2010 2:28 pm
    I have free virus protection for my computers. I don't hear MacAfee or Symantec crying about it.

    Things change. Business owners need to roll with the punches, be innovative, or take the fall.
  29. randyinadk
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    randyinadk - August 26, 2010 1:22 pm
    How perverse that a business owner claims that a free community service is "taking" business" away from him! As if he has a right to feel that people should be compelled to pay for his services. If he wants patronage, he should offer more and or better services and entice boaters to pay for whatever it is that makes him better than the free wall. Otherwise, he is just a whiner and a freeloader. If his taxes are too high, maybe, just maybe, he should re-examine his business model and pricing structure, rather than look for protective legislation that is in every way anti free market. And he should remember that it is not just he who pays for the electricity, but all taxpayers. Stop looking for a protective handout. Stand on your own merits, or do something else.

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